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Friday, December 07, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-7-2018

Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, December 7, 1918:

The management of the Chicago Club of the National League was formally placed in control of active baseball men at a meeting of the directors today. William L. Veeck, who, for ten years wrote baseball under the name of “Bill Bailey,” was elected vice president and treasurer, succeeding William H. Walker.

And in so doing, the Cubs’ board of directors unwittingly opened the door to one of the most wonderful and ridiculous and wonderfully ridiculous baseball men in history. Bill Junior was four years old at the time, so it would be a while until the fun began.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: December 07, 2018 at 10:25 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-6-2018

El Paso Herald, December 6, 1918:

President Ebbets, of the Brooklyn club, is one who says there isn’t a thing in the talk of the St. Louis Cardinals being moved to Kansas City, and probably what he says will be endorsed by seven other National league club presidents…while [Ebbets] complimented Kansas City as a live burg he made it clear that it is not to his mind of major league caliber, even if the geographical location were not all against it. The burden of transportation is enough as it is, said Ebbets, without lengthening the trips necessary.

The times have changed, of course, but 100 years later Kansas City has a big league team and Brooklyn doesn’t. I guess the Mets play 10-15 miles from the former site of Ebbets Field, so there’s that.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: December 06, 2018 at 10:08 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-5-2018

Memphis News Scimitar, December 5, 1918:

It’s one thing after another with Babe Ruth this offseason. The latest is some sort of an accident at the factor the factory he was engaged in that put one of the Babe’s legs on the blink and he is hobbling around on crutches. Two weeks ago it was the flu that had him. Before that something else, and right after the season closed he was singed and blistered when a kitchen stove blew up.

The Babe didn’t make great decisions. The kitchen stove incident happened because he poured kerosene into a fire.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: December 05, 2018 at 09:58 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-4-2018

Washington Herald, December 4, 1918:

Harry Frazee, owner of the Boston Red Sox, is reported to have enlisted the aid of George Cohan and Sam H. Harris in an effort to gain control of the Giants.
Sam Harris was quoted today as having admitted that Frazee had discussed the matter with Cohan and himself, but that the uncertainty of the theatrical business had prevented them from taking the matter up seriously.
Relations between Frazee and Ban Johnson are reported to be strained to such a degree that Frazee has determined to dispose of the Boston club. Former Gov. Walsh, of Massachusetts, is reported to have made a bid that Frazee considers very favorably.

Frazee did sell the franchise, but he kept the Red Sox. This worked out poorly for everyone outside the Bronx.

Frazee’s reported Giants co-owner was indeed that George Cohan. “It’s a Grand Old Flag”, “Over There”, “The Yankee Doodle Boy”, “Give My Regards to Broadway” George Cohan.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: December 04, 2018 at 10:11 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, December 03, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-3-2018

Washington Times, December 3, 1918:

Charlie Herzog, captain of the Boston Braves of last season, has accepted a position as an automobile salesman [in Baltimore], and may not return to baseball. He says he will never play again for a small salary, and the outlook is for him to retire.

You know the offseason is in full swing when the reports start to roll in of ballplayers taking other jobs and threatening to retire.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: December 03, 2018 at 10:04 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Friday, November 30, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-30-2018

Grand Forks Herald, November 30, 1918:

Former President William Howard Taft in an interview today declared he would under no circumstances accept the position of baseball commissioner for the two major leagues and for which office he had been suggested.

Hopefully that ends the saga of President Taft and the office of the commissioner. Knowing the media of the time, I’ll probably still be reading about it three months from now.

Elsewhere in the news 100 years ago, Milwaukee club president A.F. Timme has fired his manager and wants to hire Minneapolis skipper Joe Cantillon. Timme says Cantillon is the most popular manager in the American Association, and that attendance for games against Cantillon’s club is 25% higher than for any other visiting team. This seems unlikely to occur, as Cantillon and his brother owned the Minneapolis Millers. Also, Timme had apparently not yet mastered the difference between correlation and causation.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 30, 2018 at 09:59 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-29-2018

Washington Evening Star, November 29, 1918:

When Harry H. Frazee, president of the Boston Americans, and H.W. Hempstead, president of the New York National League club, offered William H. Taft the post of a “one-man” national baseball commission they acted without proper authority, President Ban Johnson of the American League declared in a statement today on his return from the east.

President Johnson said there are no two individuals in base ball who know less of the national agreement and the rules governing the commission than Messrs. Hempstead and Frazee.

Methinks President Johnson was becoming a bit concerned about the status of his job.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 29, 2018 at 10:14 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, tantrums

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-28-2018

Washington Times, November 28, 1918:

[Retired Browns pitcher] Barney Pelty, who lays no claim to being a football player, made a sensational dash on a gridiron at Farmington, Mo. Pelty recovered a headgear thrown in the stand by a player on the St. Louis University team, and was slow about returning it. The player made insulting remarks to Pelty, who drew a knife, it was said, and chased the grid star down behind his goal line before friends interfered.

And that’s how the safety was invented in football.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 28, 2018 at 09:49 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-27-2018

Washington Times, November 27, 1918:

[National Commission President] Garry Herrmann will put no stumbling block in the way of William Howard Taft if the ex-President consents to accept the appointment as a “one-man national baseball commission.” Herrmann…said he would step down if the league authorities thought best.
Herrmann expressed the opinion that Taft would not want to assume the mass of detail work that now devolved upon the commission.

“He is too big a man to take upon him the duties which now occupy most of the commission’s activities,” said Herrmann.

Calling President Taft “too big a man” for minutiae was maybe not the most artful turn of phrase.

Elsewhere in the news 100 years ago, Toronto is making a push to land a major league ballclub and the Memphis paper brings its News Scimitar down on the owner of the Little Rock ballclub, who has just quintupled the price he’s charging for soldiers to use his stadium.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 27, 2018 at 10:07 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, November 26, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-26-2018

Washington Herald, November 26, 1918:

That former President William Howard Taft would not accept the position of sole member of the National Commission on baseball seems assured by a statement issued by him yesterday.

Yesterday Chairman Herrmann, of the National Commission, issued a statement at Cincinnati, ridiculing the proposition. Also at Philadelphia Connie Mack, of the Philadelphia Americans, protested against the proposition.
[Taft:} “I said to [Giants owner Harry Hempstead and Red Sox owner Harry Frazee] that I did not practice law as an advocate in courts, but that I had acted as arbitrator in several cases…I could not act except as a judge of law and fact or any way take part in management of their associations. It must be work of a strictly legal professional character.”

Taft also said he needed to make sure that his brother (and former Cubs owner) Charles had completely divested of all baseball properties before he’d even consider taking the job. This was reasonable, of course, but doesn’t change that he wasn’t interested in doing the stuff that the owners wanted him to do. Seems like Taft would have been a great hire if he wanted the job, but instead he took a different job: Chief Justice of the United States.

Elsewhere in the news 100 years ago today, the Washington Times reports on possible franchise moves for 1919: Senators to Toronto, Cardinals to Kansas City, and Braves to Toronto. Imagine if both the Sens and Braves had shown up in the same city, solving none of their problems in the process.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 26, 2018 at 10:14 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-21-2018

Memphis News Scimitar, November 21, 1918:


Washington Franchise May Be Transferred Next Month

That Toronto is attempting to get the Washington franchise in the American league became known here last night, and it is said the matter will be discussed at the annual meeting of members of the league in Chicago next month.

James McCaffrey, owner of the Toronto club of the International league, it is said, is the man who wants to transfer the Senators to Canada.

President Ban Johnson, it is said, has sent a number of letters to league members, inviting suggestions on the matter.

Washington lost its AL franchise and Toronto got one. It was just a few more decades until that happened.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 21, 2018 at 09:45 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-20-2018

New York Tribune, November 20, 1918:

Jake Daubert, first baseman of the Brooklyn Nationals, has gone to the civil courts with a case which the National Commission denied…the Brooklyn idol has entered in the Supreme Court of New York County a claim for $2,150 against the Brooklyn baseball club of the National League.
His alleged claim is based upon what is known as an “ironclad” contract of organized baseball. During the days of the Federal League the Brooklyn club signed Daubert to a five-year, supposedly unbreakable contract calling for a salary of $9,000 per annum.

Daubert, with the other players of the Brooklyn club—indeed, with all the other players of organized baseball—was notified that after September 1 last his services would be no longer required…Daubert’s five-year contract had from September 2 to October 14 yet to run, and it is for this period that he demands remuneration.

This seems like something that would be easy money - and a terrible PR move - for Daubert. As you might imagine, the Dodgers weren’t thrilled with Jake. They settled out of court and shipped him to Cincinnati over the offseason just in time for Daubert to win a World Series ring.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 20, 2018 at 09:47 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

The Sky Is Falling, Baseball Is Dying, and the Roof May Leak

Some perspective from John Thorn.

Let’s focus for a moment on the elephant in the room: the commercial breaks that come with completed half innings or pitcher replacements. In the 2018 World Series each such instance consumed 2 minutes and 50 seconds. For easy mental computation let’s call it 3 minutes … multiplied by 17 in a nine-inning game won by the home team. 51 minutes. Let’s say that the two clubs combine to use nine pitchers, thus making seven changes. Add 21 minutes. Commercial breaks contribute more than an hour to a nine-inning game, making the two-and-a-half hour game of 1946 into the four-hour postseason game of today.

But somebody has to pay the freight for staging the games and broadcasting them: the networks, the sponsors, the fans. Could you lop 30 seconds off the breaks by allowing some commercials to run in split screen during an inning? That innovation could be one that fans will hate … or come to abide.

Ball player Pete O’Brien said: “Somehow or other, they don’t play ball nowadays as they used to some eight or ten years ago. I don’t mean to say they don’t play it as well. . . . But I mean that they don’t play with the same kind of feelings or for the same objects they used to. . . . It appears to me that ball matches have come to be controlled by different parties and for different purposes than those that prevailed in 1858 or 1859.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 20, 2018 at 06:05 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: history, pace of play

Monday, November 19, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-19-2018

New York Evening World, November 19, 1918:

John A. Heydler, secretary-treasurer of the National League and acting president since the resignation of John K. Tener, will be elected president without opposition when the league holds its annual meeting in [New York] on December 10. Many others have been mentioned for the vacancy, but it can be said that only Heydler’s name will come before the meeting. He is to become, like Ban Johnson, president-secretary-treasurer of his league.

This was an excellent choice. Heydler spent nearly his entire adult life working in baseball as an umpire, sportswriter, statistician, league secretary, league treasurer, and now league president. He was the guy who created Earned Run Average and decided to track batters’ strikeouts and walks.

After the Black Sox scandal, Heydler was instrumental in creating the position of Commissioner of Baseball. He was also one of the key figures in the creation of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

John Heydler was kind of a big deal.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 19, 2018 at 10:47 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Friday, November 16, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-16-2018

El Paso Herald, November 16, 1918:


Baseball Experts Believe Packing Center Better Baseball City Than St. Louis, Where Two Major League Teams Divide Interest
Kansas City is said to be waiting to be struck by National league lightning. A story has been started to the effect that the franchise of the St. Louis Cardinals will be transferred to Kansas City and that Omaha will replace the Reef Town in the American association. There may be some truth in this, as Kansas City is a good baseball town; doubtless a better one than St. Louis, divided in allegiance between two major clubs.
The chief objection to a transfer of the St. Louis franchise to Kansas City would be the inconvenience and extra expense, generally, of having a member so far isolated from the present wheel. Economy is to be one of the keystones of reorganization. The added mileage resulting from the substitution of Kansas City would be anything but economy.


Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2018 at 09:54 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-15-2018

New York Evening World, November 15, 1918:

Rumblings of a new disturbance in baseball came yesterday afternoon at the meeting of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues [in Peoria], when strong protest was made against the present system of drafting players from the minor leagues.

A resolution presented by A.R. Tearney, President of the Three I League, was passed without a dissenting vote.

The resolution demands that the American League and the National League relinquish the right of the draft and also the practice of “farming out” players under an optional agreement.

Ban Johnson on where baseball goes from here:

“The plans we have for restoring baseball after the war contemplate building from the ground up, and that means the abolition of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues which for years has been incapable of managing its own affairs.

Gosh, I can’t imagine why the minor leagues would have been upset with the major leagues.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 15, 2018 at 10:23 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-14-2018

Philip [South Dakota] Pioneer, November 14, 1918:

When this cruel war is over, perhaps the major league clubs—and some of the minors, too, for that matter—will adopt the scheme of some of these ball teams of military aviators and make their trips in airplanes. Several instances are recorded of aviators setting out to play a ball game with some other service team making the trip through the air.

Baseball teams traveling by air? It’ll never happen. That’s just crazy.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 14, 2018 at 09:54 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-13-2018

Memphis News Scimitar, November 13, 1918:


When major league baseball is resumed, the home games of the St. Louis Nationals will be played in American league park in the Mound city unless they are played in Kansas City, Phil Ball, president of the St. Louis American league club, said after a conference with B.B. Johnson, president of the American league today.

Ball said that he had been approached by Cardinal stockholders who asked whether they could lease the Browns’ park for games next summer. Ball said that he advised the sale of the club to Kansas City sportsmen, who are said to be eager to get into major league baseball.

Sounds to me like Ball just wanted his competition to leave town, rather than the Cardinals themselves looking to relocate.

Anyway, the Cards stayed in Robison Field through all of 1919 and part of 1920 before they reached a deal to move into Sportsman’s Park.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 13, 2018 at 10:01 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, November 12, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-12-2018

Toledo News-Bee, November 12, 1918:

Germany went into last place in the world league on Monday.

There are magnates in the American Association who can be expected to urge the candidacy of General Foch for the league presidency in place of Tom Hickey.

It might not be a bad idea to suggest Hank Gowdy as the first president of the German republic.

Things couldn’t have gone worse under President Gowdy than they did under Friedrich Ebert. Anyway, I feel like Austria was probably still below Germany in the world league standings at this point.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 12, 2018 at 10:20 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, world war i

Friday, November 09, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-9-2018

El Paso Herald, November 9, 1918:


Two major league clubs may find themselves homeless before the snow begins to fly. It is said that they are involved in financial troubles to such a degree that their landlords intend to freeze them out for nonpayment of debts. If these clubs are evicted it is probable that their franchises will be sold to the highest bidder. Both have lost big money since 1916 and the gossips insist that the end is near.
The total expenses of the [Braves] for 1918…were in the neighborhood of $185,000, the equivalent of 370,000 50 cent admissions.

This was particularly problematic, since the Braves’ average attendance appears to have between 3,500-4,000, based on the games with reported attendance figures.

The article doesn’t mention the identity of the other team on the brink of homelessness.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 09, 2018 at 10:01 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-8-2018

El Paso Herald, November 8, 1918:

Irish Fans Not Very Excited Over Baseball

Weather and an open-eyed wonder as to what it is all about made the first international baseball game Dublin has seen something of a fizzle so far as enthusiasm was concerned.

Yanks met Canadians, and the Yanks won, 13 to 6. The game was played in puddles, with much slopping about. Dublin boys will not adopt baseball as the result of their first introduction to the game.

People trying to spread baseball in Ireland were fighting an uphill battle. They didn’t have the benefit of a bunch of existing cricket fans, as the Gaelic Athletic Association had banned cricket. Anyone who played foreign (read: British) sports would be banned from hurling and Gaelic football, and that policy wasn’t lifted until 1970.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 08, 2018 at 10:12 AM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-7-2018

Wheeling Intelligencer, November 7, 1918:

Billy Wood says that a friend of his who is a former baseball player has started an eating house and has these signs around the place:

Club Sandwiches.
No Flies Around Here.
Game in Season from April to October.
Fowls Any Style.
Goose Eggs to Order.
Our Waiters Never Go Out on Strikes.
Ice Water in the Pitcher.
Don’t Make a Short Stop. Stay as Long as You Like.
You Can Get Beaned Here.
No Wheat Cakes Today. Batter Out.

I’d like to speak to the manager.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 07, 2018 at 10:10 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-6-2018

Pittsburgh Gazette-Times, November 6, 1918:

Charlie Swain, baseball player, died [November 4] of influenza. Until Ping Bodie came along, Swain’s record of 34 home runs was the season’s record. He played with the Washington Americans and with Sacramento and Vancouver on the coast.

Cy Swain was a better hitter than a lot of guys who made it to the big leagues, and he was playing in a Class B league with tiny ballparks, but 34 home runs during the deadball era is remarkable regardless of context.

Swain was an interesting dude. He was discovered by accident when he tagged along to his big brother Ira’s Cal State League tryout and impressed the manager. They signed Cy and sent Ira home, which probably wasn’t fun for big bro. Cy was a bit of a handful off the field - he fought with weight issues throughout his career and was notoriously fond of the bottle. According to the Spokane Press, when the Spokane ballclub sent him a contract with a temperance clause, he wired back that they should send two temperance clauses because he may break one of them.

Ira Swain contracted the Spanish Flu and died on October 21, 1918. Cy passed away of the same illness exactly two weeks later.

(Hat tip to Baseball History Daily for the biographical info.)

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 06, 2018 at 09:53 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Monday, November 05, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-5-2018

New York Tribune, November 5, 1918:

“There will be a double world’s series next fall,” [Dodgers pitcher Clarence] Mitchell has just written from France, “for the public will demand it and the army and navy will insist upon it.

“Over here we haven’t any doubt about the war’s end in plenty of time for the big leagues to start their schedules, but we do not expect to be released by Uncle Sam in time to get back in the game…the club that can win out in the army and navy competition will be the best club in the world—at least the soldiers and sailors will think so.

“And that club will have to be let in on the world’s series if it asks the chance, as it surely will.

That would have been neat, but it’s even neater that the war ended so soon after this article was published.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 05, 2018 at 10:02 AM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Friday, November 02, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-2-2018

Washington Times, November 2, 1918:

Larry Chappelle [sic], hard-hitting outfielder, for whom Charley Comiskey of the Chicago White Sox paid $10,000 several years ago, is seriously ill with Spanish influenza at the Letterman Service Hospital [in San Francisco] today.

If it weren’t for horrible luck, Larry Chappell wouldn’t have had any luck at all. He hit .305 with Milwaukee in the American Association from 1912-1913, so Comiskey went out and spent a truckload of cash (I’ve seen at least three different numbers between $10K-$18K) for him.

In his final game with Milwaukee before Chappell went to Chicago, he hurt his knee. Playing hurt for the rest of 1913, Larry hit .231/.295/.279 (69 OPS+). Chappell suffered a minor foot injury in Spring Training 1914, and that wasn’t really a problem until it turned into a life-threatening blood infection. He survived (obviously) but missed almost all of the 1914 season.

Having moved on from Chappell, the Sox sent him back to the American Association the next season, then traded him to Cleveland in the Joe Jackson deal in August 1915. Playing in the Pacific Coast League in 1918, Chappell was tops in the circuit with a .325 batting average when he left the Salt Lake City Bees to join the army. Three months later he contracted influenza. A couple of weeks after that, Larry Chappell died. He was 28 years old.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 02, 2018 at 11:02 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

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